There is no shortage of racing games on the Switch, but the crew at PQube and devs at Level 91 has created something quite unique with their latest release, Inertial Drift. Let’s jump right in!
The wonderful art style and slick presentation in place on this title will make you feel as if you are playing Initial D, the video game. It sports 16 JDM cars and 20 neon infused tracks to slide them around on. It has a hint of Ridge Racer in its DNA, but with far more depth in core driving mechanics.
My first few laps were driven in a feisty yellow hot hatch. I must have hit every wall in the early going, as I wasn’t accustomed to the twin stick controls for drifting. You steer with the left analogue and it’s pretty responsive at low speed, but once you get going…it barely alters your direction. The right analog stick acts as a handbrake (appropriately referred to as the Drift Stick), but you have to work it left to right depending on the approaching curve. On top of this, you also are constantly on both the gas and brakes to rotate into that perfect drift.
Engage the right analogue stick as you approach a sharp turn; keep the pedal floored and tap the brake to increase your turn-in. There is no doubt a decent learning curve present here, but with practice you soon begin to see the real magic behind this control scheme. Racing your ghost around each track in Arcade Mode is tons of fun and really pushes you to improve your lines and learn your car’s limits. Eventually, you’ll notice that your lap times are lowering as you confidently rip around corners with blazing fast controlled slides. Pulling off back-to-back drifts, where you power through entry and exit corners with absolute precision never gets old.
Each course presents its own unique challenges and they are all a visual treat. Race alongside snow covered mountains, beside a sea at sunset or through the neon lit streets of downtown. There is also a solid amount of modes at your disposal. After the tutorial and several practice runs, you’ll want to play through the story, that follows 4 racers as they prepare for the Grand Prix (where your skills will really be tested). Challenge Mode is where you can gain access to new cars and find out which ones are your favorites. There is also split screen and online multiplayer here (with 3 difficulty ranges that include Class C, B and A). We were unable to establish an online match for some reason at the time of review, which was a bummer. It would just continue searching for other players, which could mean there aren’t too many engaged online yet or that we simply encountered a matchmaking bug during our testing.
Inertial Drift by Level 91 is a gorgeous arcade racer that utilizes unique twin stick controls for an intense ride that takes serious skill to master. It takes cues from Ridge Racer, Tokyo Xtreme Racer and Initial D. This one is an absolute treat for JDM fans. It is a surprisingly challenging game at first, but one that feels incredibly satisfying as you power your way through each apex and drift the night away.